Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2017

Degree Type




Director of Thesis

Robin Morris, Ph.D.

First Reader

Amanda Dalola, Ph.D.

Second Reader

Amanda Dalola, Ph.D.


In studies of silent reading, it is well-attested that the phonological content of a word, and not only its visual shape, contributes to the reading process. One of the most widely-observed phenomena in this field is the “tongue twister effect”: the tendency for words with repeated initial phonemes to be read more slowly and comprehended more poorly than words without phonological repetition. This effect has been welldocumented over decades of research; however, it has overwhelmingly dealt with wordinitial overlap, or alliteration. Very few studies have looked at the impact that word-final overlap, or rhyme, might have on reading. In the current study, participants silently read sentences containing three-word alliterative, rhyming, or control phrases while their eye movements were monitored. Sentences were also controlled for orthographic overlap, with some phrases exhibiting both phonological and orthographic overlap (P+O+) and some exhibiting phonological overlap alone (P+O-). Results revealed that both alliteration and rhyme created longer processing times in early measures, but the effect of rhyme was far more robust and persisted into late measures. The P+O- condition also tended to elicit longer reading times than P+O+. These results suggest that rhyme exerts a stronger phonological cue than alliteration, despite previous studies suggesting that the initial letter of a word is the most important in word recognition.

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© 2017, Keiko Bridwell